ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A prestigious college preparatory school in Albuquerque now wants to let younger students learn from them. St. Pius X High School is opening to middle schoolers.

“We want to provide choice to families. For some families, they are going to stay right where they are right now because they’re happy right where they are. But for those that are looking for that additional choice, that’s what we want to offer,” said President of St. Pius X High School, Fr. John Trambley.

St. Pius will now open its doors to 8th-grade students. “We were given the okay by the board of trustees to expand to 8th-grade next fall. Then, we will use that year to judge how it works out for us and also for our feeder schools,” said Director of Marketing and Enrollment for St. Pius, Jeff Turcotte.

The school said though they expect to take some students from existing Catholic schools, they hope in the long run to grow the overall number of students at Catholic schools in the metro. According to Turcotte, Catholic school enrollment has been down 50% in the past decade. He mentioned there has not been a new Catholic school built in Albuquerque since the 1960s.

“We want to work with the other schools to find ways to keep Catholic schools growing because right now, there has been a bit of a decline in some of the schools and some of the enrollment,” said Fr. Trambley.

This comes after the Archdiocese of Santa Fe reached a $121 million settlement for allegations of clergy sexual misconduct. In the last few months, the school bought the campus from the Archdiocese.

Turcotte added, “It reaffirms that the campus is safe. That we have saved the campus because this time last year, we were worried about that being possible. It’s possible and now we need to make the most out of the campus and make the most in serving our community by way of this campus.”

After conducting a study in December to see if families were interested in sending their 8th graders to the school, 875 households participated. Sixty-one percent said they would likely enroll their student. Parents also responded saying communication, academic excellence, and extracurricular activities were important to them. The school said they are excited to allow 8th graders to join sports and other activities on campus.

“We hope this is going to be something that builds up all of the schools in the area,” said Trambley.

Tuition for 8th grade is set at $5,900. The school said the price is comparable to surrounding Catholic middle schools. After the 2023 – 2024 school year, they will decide whether to allow 6th and 7th graders on campus as well.

The school said those who are interested can go to their website for more information and fill out their interest form. St. Pius will have their first meeting with parents about the fall semester on February 6.